Family appeals ruling in Fay School WiFi sickness case
by Scott O’Connell, Telegram & Gazette Staff, 25 June 2018
WORCESTER – The parents who lost their lawsuit against a Southboro private school whose wireless internet they alleged sickened their son have appealed the decision, federal court records show.
The plaintiffs, identified only as “Mother” and “Father” and their son “G” in the original complaint, lost their civil action against the Fay School two weeks ago when a U.S. District Court judge rejected their last remaining claim of retaliation in the case.
The family submitted a notice of appeal of that decision, as well as a previous court ruling against their case, in U.S. District Court in Worcester on Friday, according to the docket for the case.
They say that G, who attended the Fay School up until two years ago, suffers from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome, which causes him to become physically ill in the presence of strong electromagnetic signals, like those produced by wireless internet. When G began experiencing symptoms of his condition in his Fay School classes, the school refused to make any suitable accommodations for him, the family’s lawsuit contended.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman dismissed most of the case a year ago, explaining in his order at the time that while G might have been suffering from a condition exacerbated by WiFi, there was not a strong enough case that the Fay School had failed its legal obligation to accommodate him.
In his latest ruling on the family’s outstanding retaliation claim – they accused the school of retaliating against G and his parents, and even G’s brother, also a student at the school at the time, over their WiFi complaints – Judge Hillman found that charge was moot, given there didn’t seem to be any way G would attend the school again. The boy was reportedly enrolled as a freshman at St. John’s High School in the past year; the Fay School’s last year is ninth grade.
The notice of appeal filed Friday is challenging both decisions, according to an electronic copy of the document.
The family’s lawyer, John Markham, could not be reached Monday. But he told the Telegram & Gazette in the wake of the judge’s June 8 dismissal of the case that the family was contemplating an appeal.
He also said the case was an important one for the WiFi safety advocacy community, who generally believe wireless internet can be dangerous to humans and needs to be more strictly regulated. But many leading medical authorities and scientists have cast doubt on those views, maintaining that current government regulations are safe and that the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are likely not caused by WiFi.